Sports Gambling 101: What is Live Betting?

Our Gambling 101 series continues with a breakdown of live betting. What is it and how can bettors use it to their advantage?
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History of Live Betting

Ranking amongst the biggest innovations in gambling history, live betting has exploded in popularity recently. That is especially true with the introduction of the Internet as in-play wagering has never been more plentiful or exciting. While there was probably live betting earlier, documented in-play wagering dates back to the early 1900s. Back then, fans at baseball games would bet in the stands during each inning.

Fenway Park in Boston, where legendary Las Vegas bookmaker Sonny Reizner started his gambling career, was a hotbed of live betting activity. Reizner, who was the Godfather of prop betting, recalls gamblers gathering in the right-field bleacher section at Fenway Park back in the 1930s. Betting options included the next pitch being a ball or strike, whether a batter would get on base or not and whether the next hit would be a single, double, triple or a home run.

Live In-Play Betting Today

What’s that old expression? You’ve come a long way baby! That applies to live betting, as it has never been simpler, more technically refined or widely available. Players at brick and mortar sportsbooks, like the Westgate in Las Vegas, are offered a variety of in-game betting options as the action plays out on giant screens. Betting on NFL quarter and halftime results have been common at land-based shops for decades. Team and player props are also popular live options.

Live betting is big at online bookmakers like FanDuel and DraftKings. At any hour of the day bettors can log on to their account and wager on live contests. If a major sporting event is being played anywhere on the Earth, in-play betting options are likely available somewhere. Single games in the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL feature a variety of live choices and they help create exciting games within a game. Start slow, follow the action and jump in when the time is right.

Proposition bets, like the next goal scorer and the result of the next play, are continuously updated and bring an added layer of viewing excitement to the contests. Tennis fans can bet on the results of each game or the number of sets it will take to win the match. Golf fans can bet on a player's score on their next hole, along with their total score, and the odds are adjusted after each hole is complete. Anything big that occurs during a sporting event can most likely be bet on.

What are Live Betting Advantages and Disadvantages?

A short answer here is there are solid advantages and just a few disadvantages. On the negative side, live betting can be addictive and that can lead to players spending extra cash and time at a sportsbook. It can also be costly if you go on a losing streak during any particular match. Betting on the next goal scorer in an NHL game is an example. Chasing Connor McDavid on a night where he doesn’t seem fully engaged, can rack up losses. Set a live betting budget and stick to it.

Advantages to live betting include being able to get a handle on the flow of a game and the ability to set up winning wagers with hedge bets. As contests play out, it’s wise to gauge the motivation on both sides. Bettors who noticed Tom Brady shifting into “FU mode” with the New England defense also stepping up, cashed in several times during Super Bowl 51. After the Patriots stormed back against Atlanta, savvy players holding Falcons tickets hedged their bets prior to overtime.

Set Your Own Profit Return on Parlays

When they are holding possible winning tickets, which are down to the final leg, parlay bettors are avid fans of live betting. Let’s say the Cowboys (-115) and Ravens (-125) have already won and the Rams (-275) are hosting the Cardinals in the afternoon. The possible profit is $359 on a $100 bet. Based on the Rams moneyline, Arizona would be priced as a -6.5 (-110) underdog. Betting $150 on the point spread would set up a possible win on both wagers.

If the Rams win by seven points or more, the parlay profit would sink to $209. If the Cardinals lose, by six points or less, both tickets cash and $495 is the return. If Arizona wins outright, bettors get their $100 parlay stake returned and a $36 in no-risk profit.

Hedging bets is personal. Some like to take the money and run, others like to gamble and let it ride. Recreational bettors are wise to consider an old familiar phrase; a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

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